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10.3. Fonts and Text

The font property has also picked up a few new values in CSS2:


These values give the font property the ability to match the font family, size, weight, and so forth, according to the settings users have specified on their computers. For example, icons on a Macintosh are typically labeled using 9-point Geneva. Assuming that hasn't been changed by the user, any font declaration with a value of icon will result in 9-point Geneva for that text -- as long as the page is viewed using a Macintosh:

SPAN.OScap {font: icon;}  /* will look like icon labels in OS */

On a Windows system, of course, the font would come out different, and under other window managers (like X), it would look different still. The flexibility is certainly interesting, and it allows the author to easily create pages that have an appearance familiar to the user.

10.3.1. New Font Properties

The font section gains two new properties in CSS2. font-size-adjust is intended to help browsers make sure that text will be the intended size, regardless of whether the browser can use the font specified in the style sheet. It is often a problem that authors will call for a font that is not available to the user, and when another font is substituted, it's either too big or too small to read comfortably. This new property addresses that very problem, and should be very useful for authors who want to make sure that their documents are readable no matter what font is substituted.

The other new font property is font-stretch , which allows you to define variable widths for the fonts you use. This is similar to setting a character width in a desktop publishing system. The property uses keywords such as ultra-condensed , wider, and expanded. The changes are handled in a fashion similar to font weights, where a table of condensed and expanded font faces is constructed, and the keywords are assigned to various faces. If no face exists, the user agent may try to scale a font on its own, or it may simply ignore font-stretch altogether. Figure 10-13 shows what a font might look like for each possible value of font-stretch.

Figure 10-13

Figure 10-13. Stretching fonts

10.3.2. text-shadow

In terms of text, there is one new property, text-shadow, which has the effect you'd probably expect from its name: you can define a drop shadow of a given color for text. You can even set an offset and a blur radius, which means you can get cool fuzzy shadows, or even glow effects, using this property. We should fully expect to see this property horribly abused the instant it's supported by any browser; for a few examples of why, see the simulations in Figure 10-14.

Figure 10-14

Figure 10-14. Various effects using the text-shadow property

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face available. 400 goes to Regular as expected, but what about 500 ? It is assigned to the Regular (or normal) face because there isn't a Medium face available; thus, it is assigned the same as 400. As for the rest, 700 goes with bold as always, while 800 and 900, lacking a heavier face, are assigned to the Bold font face. Finally, 600 is assigned to the next-heavier face, which is, of course, the Bold face.

all H1 elements to have a thick, silver border,it's very simple. This declaration would be displayed as shownin Figure 7-49:

H1 {border: thick silver solid;}

The drawback with border is that you can onlydefine "global" styles, widths, and colors. In otherwords, the values you supply for border will applyto all four sides equally. If you want the borders to be differentfor a single element, you'll need to use some of the otherpermitted. Using a number defines a scaling factor that is multiplied by the font-size, and the number itself is inherited, not the computed value. This allows for much more intelligent page layout, and is strongly preferred over other methods of setting line-height.

The drawback to using a number value is that IE3 will interpret it as a number of pixels. See Chapter 8, "Visual Formatting" for a detailed discussion of line-height and line boxes.